When the moon is in a particular zodiac sign, it describes the tone, ‘nature’ or energy of all living things for that period and lasts approximately 2.25 days).

Planting, according to the phases of the moon, is the foundation and basis of lunar gardening. As you establish a rhythm of gardening or any activity to the phases of the mood, you’ll notice the results of feeling and being more ‘in sync’ with the rhythm of life.

Yet to fine tune and embrace the complete method of ‘being in tune with the moon; ancient observers considered the ‘divisions’ of the sky that the moon passes through in each 29.5 day cycle. These divisions, the signs of the zodiac, are a period of time of around 2.25- 2.5 days that occur within the four main moon phases and give the detail needed to pinpoint timing for specific results.

As with phase gardening, the principles are easy to follow when you refer to Moonlight Calendar to track the moon. Start by experimenting and follow the suggested activities in the phases. Make notes of the signs as you garden and see for yourself if there are any noticeable differences. Then go onto scheduling chores in sync with specific signs – all you need is detailed below:

In one lunar cycle, the moon travels the twelve signs of the zodiac (as the sun does in a year). The signs are grouped into the elements of nature.

The elements are the essence of all matter. Plants, herbs, minerals, water and all living matter have the same basic composition of fire, earth, air and water.

 

The Four Elements of Nature are represented within three signs of the zodiac:

Fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

The water and earth signs are moist and semi-moist and receptive in nature, so considered fertile and semi-fertile. The fire and air signs are hot and dry in nature, and less receptive than water and earth, so defined as barren and very barren.

Moonlight Calendar has a simplified system, with colour-coded backgrounds for the elements for easy reference for gardening activities (for more detail refer to How to read your calendar).

Where is the Moon?

In any moon cycle at new moon phase, the moon meets up with the sun, and from earth’s vantage point, the sun and moon are next to each other, in the same sign for approximately 2.5 days.
Then, the moon continues to move ahead of the sun to the following sign, and around 14 days later, about the halfway point of the cycle, the moon has travelled through six signs and at full phase, in the opposite sign to the sun.
Continuing the cycle, the moon moves through the next six signs to join up with the sun again, (at the dark phase), to begin a new cycle.

In gardening, and specifically for planting, the sign of the moon is considered for optimum moisture and growth.

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

These are considered VERY BARREN and not good for planting, with Sagittarius and Aries considered less barren for specific plants that flourish with less water.


Aries – the Ram: in this period only good to germinate seeds or sow for seed production and best in the first phase. It is better for hot vegetables and fruit seed production and to sow indigenous flower seeds. Vegetables (like leafy salads) and herbs planted in this sign often bolt or flower too quickly. It is better to clear, weed, cultivate soil or do pest control – especially larvae in early spring – during the waning phase.

Leo – the Lion: NO PLANTING IN ANY PHASE EVER during this period. This is the most barren sign and only suited for reducing and removing. Best for pest control, harvesting, controlled burns and turning compost in the third or fourth phase. An excellent period to destroy or remove aliens and invasive species.

Sagittarius – the Archer: when in the first phase, sow hot vegetable seeds (leafy ones, like chives and spicy leaves); in the second phase sow/plant seedlings like, spring onions, mustard leaves, rocket, chilli varieties, capsicum peppers, leeks, stem type cacti and succulents. In the third phase plant seedlings of onions, spring onions, garlic, leeks, horseradish, also to transplant bulbous succulents and in the last quarter harvest, clear beds, weed, and control pests.

 

Taurus, Virgo,  Capricorn

These are SEMI-FERTILE, mostly positive periods to plant with the exception of the sign of Virgo (as the sign of the Virgin is considered to produce poorly, specifically flowers, fruit or seeds).


Taurus – the Bull: in this period sow and plant leaf type vegetables until the first quarter; plant and tend roses and ornamental flowers from the first quarter to the full moon. Taurus is good for root vegetables, bulbs, tubers, corms and rhizomes – plant these in the full moon to the last quarter phase. Also, divide bulbous species, transplant and repot. Apply compost and mulch in all phases, especially in the third and fourth.

Virgo – the Virgin: this sign is considered BARREN, (not productive) therefore is generally not a recommended period to plant produce. Suited for leafy plants like thyme or mint in the first phase; or when Virgo is in the second phase, plant to contain or to slow grow creepers, hedges, bonsai and endemic indigenous shrubs. This is the best period for harvesting and for storing produce, and produce won’t bud or mould. Dry out herbs in the third or last quarter. This is an ideal period to tidy the garden, pave, fence and for tool maintenance.

Capricorn – the Goat: this is a good period for root growth, especially trees and shrubs after full phase to last quarter. Also to transplant, divide roots or plant perennials, plant root veg, bulbs and tubers. Deciduous trees planted in Capricorn (in second phase) are long-lasting, but slow-growing and can be slow to produce, but often then become prolific producers after five or six years. Plant bonsai or container gardens during the third phase.

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

These are BARREN, not fertile and generally not ideal for planting in, except for Libra, which is considered semi-fertile – see other exceptions below.
Gemini – the Twins: this period promotes the pollination of grains and grasses, which is successful when planted in this semi-barren sign, late in the first phase or early in the second phase. Experienced moon gardeners often wait for the second day of the sign of ‘the twins’ to plant their beans and peas, as the moist Cancer moon days follow, make sure seeds are kept moist during the following four barren days.

Libra – the Scales: this is a SEMI-FERTILE period and ideal to plant for beautiful blooms, cut flowers and fragrance. Plant flowering annuals, perennials, trees and deciduous fruit in the second phase. It is also good for vine growth – like peas, beans, gourds and cucurbits. It is good for transplanting and dividing in the third phase.

Aquarius – the Water Bearer: this period is most effective for weed and pest control in the third and fourth phases. Lightly prune or pinch plants in the first or second phase to increase growth. Plant exotics or hybrids which favour dryness only in the second phase. Some say this is the second best choice to plant orchids, with Libra a better period, for beauty.

 

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

These are FERTILE, so exceptionally good for all planting in as their nature is similar to the moon’s moist nature. When possible, choose a water sign for all planting, but check that the phase suits the plant type and your desired result. Also, avoid planting, especially annuals or sowing seeds, in the last moon phase. The small decreasing moon makes for slow germination and delayed or stunted growth.

Irrigation and fertilising is always indicated on these days as being effective and long lasting, so are especially beneficial for sandy and ‘oily’ soils. Irrigate deeply on the fertile days, particularly in the dry season. During the increasing moon roots readily take moisture up stems and into leaves. During the waning phase the roots hold water and fertiliser, as it acts like a mulch and keeps roots cool.

Cancer – the Crab: this is good period for kitchen garden planting, including all fruits, vegetables and herbs. In the first phase, plant and sow leafy produce like herbs and brassicas. In the second phase, plant fruit with internal seeds, like tomatoes, marrows, gooseberries and cucumbers. Also in this phase, plant out mature vegetable seedlings into beds or containers. In the third phase, after full to last quarter, plant root vegetables like carrots, leeks, potatoes, turnips and beetroot. Transplant trees and shrubs and repot plants. Trap slugs and snails in the third or last quarter.

Scorpio – the Scorpion: this is a good period for all planting, (second only to Cancer), and produces high yields of fruit and seeds, especially berries and tomatoes. Planting in this sign also produces strong roots, sturdy stems and vines for peas, beans, melons and pumpkins. Scorpio is good for flower production, but rather choose Libra for fragrant flowers, like roses. Transplant and repot annuals, biennials, perennials and trees after the full moon phase. In the third or last quarter pest control of hard shell insects is especially effective.

Pisces – the Fish: this is a good period for planting drought-resistant plants, such as succulents and indigenous species, and conversely also aquatic or semi-aquatic species. This sign also encourages stable roots, so is excellent for root vegetables and tubers. It is also a good period for transplanting seedlings. Planting in this sign encourages bushiness and good fruit production. Avoid planting or sowing root vegetables on the few days before new moon as this often produces misshapen plants.